This past week Americans were once-again exposed to the awakening beast that is eSports. MLG Columbus, an annual circuit event organized by Major League Gaming (this time in cooperation with developer Valve) took centerstage in the eSports world. Featuring the immensely popular first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, MLG surpassed expectations with excellent production and coordination throughout the event. However, before jumping into the actual games, here are some stats worth looking at:
30 million stream views over 6 days
$1-million-dollar prize pool
Live coverage in 14 languages
16 teams from across the world (4 North American, 1 South American, 11 European)
I’d like to preface these highlights with a quote from the modern philosopher Drake: “Nothing was the same”.
A Story of Upsets
Liquid (American) vs Fnatic (Swedish) – Group B
The first major upset of the tournament, and what a great one at that. Tournament favorite Fnatic (6 for 6 in 1st place finishes at consecutive premiere events) suffered a grueling 22:19 defeat in QUADRUPLE overtime to Team Liquid. Despite some cocky plays by Fnatic, Liquid’s consistency and positioning ultimately helped secured them the win.
CLG (American) vs nV (French) – Group C
CLG, the only other American team to reach the playoffs, did so through the defeat of an unstable and slumping nV. Not to take away from CLG’s win, but it will be certainly interesting to see if nV doesn’t make any roster changes in the near future.
Astralis (Danes) vs Fnatic (Swedish) – Quarterfinals
Despite the earlier upset, Fnatic seemed to be back in form and looking to advance. However, Astralis tore apart that plan and crushed Fnatic in spectacular fashion. The scores tell the story: 16:10 in game one, 16:5 in game two. It was clear that Fnatic’s confidence was shattered after game one and Astralis capitalized on that for the landslide win in game two.
Luminosity (Brazilian) vs Natus Vincere (Eastern European) – Finals
Luminosity rose to claim their first premier title and simultaneously end the European reign of terror. If World War 3 ever happened… well this probably isn’t what it would look like. However, plenty of virtual bullets were spent. After game one ended in double overtime with a 19:17 win for Luminosity, spectators fairly expected another neck-to-neck contest. Unfortunately, what followed was nothing short of humiliating. Luminosity mopped the floor with Natus Vincere in an impossible 16:2 finale. Please take a moment and let that sink in. That’s like Bernie Sanders breaking Hillary’s ankles in a game of streetball or a Final Four team losing by over 40 points, simply unheard of.
Since the event has come to an end, I thought it worthwhile taking a stab at describing this glorious mess while it’s still hot. My best efforts produced this: The Tournament of Hope. As cliché as that may sound, it really does make sense to me. So many storylines came together in this short time. European Dominance and North American Spirit battled head to head across a multitude of matches. Adding to the intensity was the fact that of the last 10 premier level events, all had resulted in European champions. Columbus, despite the home-town pride, had all the indications of producing a similar result. Or so it was thought. If anything I’m eager to see where these results take the scene. Will North America stand up to the next challenge, or will this just serve as a road-bump in the path of European destruction.